Saturday 27th March was a true 'orange flag' day in the history of Hobeck Books.
What do I mean by that?
Rebecca and I were staggered to find that one of our titles, Daria's Daughter by Linda Huber had reached number one on Amazon Canada. (Well, the psychological fiction chart at least.) With that, came the coveted Amazon orange flag proclaiming the book a bestseller. It's an accolade everyone wants in publishing, giving you instant credibility as readers browse the site.
We rubbed our eyes in disbelief. Yes, DD, as we affectionately refer to Daria's Daughter in the Hobeck office, has been selling strongly from day one. And yes, the reviews for Linda's wonderful novel have been superb. But number one? In as prestigious a category as that? We didn't know whether to laugh, fall over, dance or weep. Instead, we cracked open the one drink with any semblance of 'fizz' we possessed that night, a solitary can of body-warm Diet Coke.
To be honest, we'd been caught unawares. We knew that the Bookbub promotion we were running in Canada, UK, Australia and India would help sales, but number one? It was the stuff of dreams, and all the harder to believe given we'd published our first book just nine months earlier. Sure, we've always been confident that we could sell books and deliver for our authors and readers, but this was a fillip we needed.
Just a couple of days earlier, one of the pioneers of UK independent publishing, Urbane, had announced they were closing, citing the impact of Brexit and Covid for their decision. Conditions were simply too tough. Our hearts went out to them, and of course their authors, but it also made us reflect. If Urbane struggled, what about us as a new company? Many wiser business heads have reminded Rebecca and I that "cash flow is king." We certainly understand what they mean. Starting a business feels like all spend and no return at times, not helped by the two month time lag between sales and Amazon paying us our royalties.
We're learning all the time, and discovering day-by-day what works in terms of marketing and publicity. We've been fortunate to recruit such a talented, committed and supportive team of authors. We're also proud of the support team of designers and editors we've added to the Hobeck family. So we would like to think that Saturday's orange flag moment was one for all of us - the result of ambition, commitment, dedication and talent, and above all team work. May Daria's Daughter be the first of many such successes.
I'm off to the off licence to ensure we have something better to drink when the next occasion arises.